Continued from yesterday’s post…
It’s the time of year where my mind and emotional body travel back to thoughts, feelings, and memories about what was happening six years ago. It is as if I’m literally transported to the scenes of that time, so real are the sense memories as they float from the unconscious layer, where they normally reside, to consciousness as the anniversary date approaches.
I’m surprised by how exhausted I feel. As much as I’m steeped in the world of transitions, sometimes I forget how it really feels to be in one. As my psyche undergoes the hard work of remembering, my body feels the repercussions. I’m not myself. I have to use extreme amounts of caution and consciousness to avoid projecting the cause of my depressed state onto my family. It’s not depression as we normally think of the word, but depression as I use it in the context of transition: I’m underground. Quiet. Internal. Alone. So foreign to anything our culture discusses, I have to remind myself that the exhaustion and transition depression are normal so that I can honor these states without questioning or externalizing them. By doing so, I allow them to pass through me.
My body remembers…
It’s 4am. I wake up to go to the bathroom (for the sixth time that night) and when I get back into bed I find that my water has broken. Excitement and terror rush through me and I wake up Daev to tell him. We call the midwife, who tells me that I’m not really in labor and to go back to sleep if possible. It’s not possible; I’m too excited about the thought of finally meeting my baby. I lie in bed for a couple of hours, then go into the kitchen to make breakfast.
Harvey and his little daughter, Mia, down from Chico, are making eggs. I tell Harvey that my water broke and Lisa, who’s still lying in bed, hears me and says, “Get in here!” I come into the room where they’re staying, the room where Everest will be born, and lie beside her on the air mattress. We talk about her own labor with Mia. We talk about the shower the day before. We talk as women-who-become-girls-together always do: about nothing and everything at the same time. It feels good to soak in some girl time. Lisa says they’ll stay as long as they can with hopes of witnessing the birth.
It’s 11am. Daev and I drive to the valley for our previously scheduled midwife appointment. The contractions are strong, but bearable. I’m sitting in the waiting room of my midwife’s office talking with a woman who has an older child and a second on the way. A contraction comes on and I breathe through it. She doesn’t know I’m in labor. The midwife ushers us back and takes a Ph strip test of the water from my uterus to confirm that I am, indeed, in labor. It’s confirmed, although she reiterates that it’s very early labor and I should try to sleep as much as possible today.
We drive home and spend more time with Lisa, Harvey, and Mia. I’m grateful for the distraction, but as the day progresses and I’m still in early labor, they realize they need to get back to Chico for work reasons. They pack up and leave; I feel the emptiness of their departure. By this point, I’ve called all my friends to tell them I’m in labor. The rest of the afternoon passes. I keep thinking real labor will set in, but the contractions remain fairly far apart and definitely manageable.
It’s 8pm. I’m sitting on our bed doing one of my labor projects: organizing our wedding photos into albums. I feel peaceful and serene enough to write in my journal (clearly a sign that it’s still early labor). I write:
I’m in labor.
My water broke at 4am and I’ve been having intermittent contractions ever since. It’s now 8:26 at night and it seems that they’re coming closer together and with more intensity. Dear Baby, we’re on our way!
Dear Spirit, please guide us through this transition. Please let me feel your embrace around us as we make our way into this next phase of life. Please protect my baby. Please guide my husband. Please help me open to you completely, to trust my body which is a manifestation of your beauty and wisdom. As I wrote many years ago in relation to wanting to have a baby but not being ready, “I trust in the rhythm and wisdom of my body.” Let me remember that trust now as I enter further into this passageway, as the contractions become stronger and more intense, as I open to allow this baby to born into the world.
Please help me as I become a mother. Please help me care for and fall in love with this baby, so that I may give this child the best possible life that I am capable of giving. I know I won’t do it perfectly, but please let me do it good enough. Please help me have compassion for myself throughout this journey of motherhood, and when my compassion falters and I find that I’m berating myself for not being the “perfect” mother, please help me seek support. Thank you for allowing me to participate in this journey of housing and ushering in new life. I am so grateful.
I’ve felt so many emotions already. I feel mostly serene, but then I’ll have moments of the lonely feeling that I used to get when I would leave home and I would long for my mother. I suppose that makes sense, since in many ways I am leaving home as I embark upon this unknown journey. I certainly am scared to become a mother. I feel a little of everything, as I suppose I expected I would.
I thought I would surely meet my baby on August 9th, 2004. But it was one of my first lessons of surrender as a new mother, for it would be a full twenty-four hours more before Everest arrived. The journey was really just beginning. And it was about to become the challenging test of my life: my initiation into motherhood.